Stuart Rupert Clark
September 28, 1975, Sutherland, Sydney, New South Wales
Right hand bat
Right arm fast medium
Stuart Clark is a tall and lanky opening bowler who was initially bracketed by the national selectors as "in the Glenn McGrath mould", but he created his own category with strong displays over 24 Tests. He fitted in perfectly in his opening appearances - he replaced McGrath, who was caring for his sick wife - and at the age of 30 experienced a dream start as the Player of the Series with 20 wickets at 15.75 against South Africa. A gamble for the first game at Cape Town, he collected his baggy green and earned his side a victory with 5 for 55 and 4 for 34, the third-best match figures by an Australian debutant behind Bob Massie and Clarrie Grimmett.
His home welcome was equally impressive as he helped up-end England with his extra lift, gained from his 197cm height, and regular seam movement. An uncomfortable prospect, especially early in a spell, he picked up 26 wickets at 17 in the Ashes to show there was life for Australia's bowling contingent after McGrath. Clark captured at least one victim in all ten innings against England and missed out only once in his opening nine Tests. Just when England thought they had left their Clark nightmares behind he popped up at Hampshire on a short-term visit and broke Michael Vaughan's hand.
While Clark quickly became a fixture in the longer form, he was dropped from the one-day team during that season's CB Series and was considered too expensive for a 2007 World Cup berth. He vowed to improve his control and won a Caribbean reprieve when Brett Lee turned his ankle in New Zealand. There was one game against Ireland and he did not disappoint in more intermittent appointments, finishing with 39 ODI caps. After 34 Test wickets were added to his collection at an average of 26.52 against Sri Lanka, India and West Indies in 2007-08, his hold on a Test place became less secure. He was dropped in India in 2008 before struggling with an elbow injury at home, the surgery ruling him out of both series against South Africa.
Called for the one-day tournament against Pakistan, he made a steady return in the United Arab Emirates instead of delivering long spells in the County Championship in preparation for the Ashes tour. He played two games in the defeat and started strongly at Leeds, but was unable to make an impact after being preferred to Nathan Hauritz at The Oval. He hasn't retired from internationals, but the rest of his career will be spent at New South Wales, who he captained either side of a back injury in 2009-10.
A former real-estate agent in Sydney who crams study for a masters degree in commerce, Clark had to wait to strike the right market after a battle with his body as much as his talent. Clark held a Cricket Australia contract after a 45-wicket season in 2001-02 before losing it a summer later when struck by ankle and rib injuries. Hernia surgery was next on the list followed quickly by a leg problem, but he collected 40 breakthroughs in 2004-05 to re-impress Trevor Hohns and his selection gang.
While on a guest stint at Middlesex, Clark was called up as a squad replacement for the Ashes tour, although he did not get a playing opportunity. He made his ODI debut during the 2005 Super Series and was a sound limited-overs performer in his first summer. A child of English-born parents who met in India, he became a father in 2006 with the birth of a son, and his life after cricket is already mapped out. Once he finishes his current degree Clark wants to study law and plans to work in finance.
Peter English August 2010
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